When school started, Teagle and Prather, already best buddies, walked into La Jolla High School as sophomores. “Ed and I were so close that sometimes the teachers would call us by each other’s names.” Both were athletes, Teagle starring on the football and track squads, Prather excelling at basketball as well. As a junior, footballer Teagle was selected as All-City First Team and Second Team Southern California. With the arrival of June, says Prather, “the athletes from all the San Diego high schools and San Diego State came down to the beach. That brought the girls.” For the active, it was take your pick: Touch football on the sand was the game du jour, but there were rings and bars and even bodybuilding to impress the females. Beach volleyball and bodysurfing were favorites of the locals.
In 1941, graduating high schoolers began trading in their trunks for GI khakis or navy bell-bottoms. As World War II turned life upside down, more able-bodied men joined up, leaving job vacancies for women and teenagers. In the summer of ’43, the age for San Diego County lifeguards was dropped from 21 to 17, and Teagle and Prather were two of the chosen ones; already star athletes, the affable duo’s stock went up further as they stalked the beaches in their official garb and lifesaving gear. Not for long. Soon after graduation in 1944, Phil Prather enlisted in the Navy. Needing extra credits, Teagle graduated the following semester in January, then found himself on a U.S. Navy ship headed to the Pacific. The war ended within a year and both returned to San Diego to resume their lives. Prather found a job. Ed Teagle entered San Diego State. Not that they abandoned San Diego’s golden summers. In fact, fun in the sun and sea reached a new level after the horrors of war. “There was a lot more drinking and smoking,” Prather recalls.
Ed Teagle married his sweetheart Evie Parchen in 1946; she’d been prom queen their senior year. Says Prather, “She was Ed’s girl all through high school.” Also the product of a rough-and-tumble childhood, bounced from relative to relative all over San Diego, the winsome girl shared her boyfriend’s sunny outlook. As a young father, Teagle juggled a lot of balls: a college student, he also worked afternoons at Criscola’s liquor store, then life-guarded at night, using dead time to pore over his textbooks. By 1950, he was supporting a wife and two kids. He still pursued his love of track and field at SDSU, excelling in pole vault, javelin, and hurdles. To feed his sports addiction, those college summers were spent diving and spiking volleyballs in the sand of Old Mission Beach.
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The tradition of staying on the court until you lost was in effect even back then and Teagle was seldom off. In 1949, the first San Diego Open was held at La Jolla Shores and won by Teagle and partner Danny Prall.
Yet there was a problem with beach volleyball for a lot of Teagle’s cronies. Four people on a couple of courts left a lot of guys on the sidelines, watching and waiting. According to an interview given by Teagle in Over-the-Line magazine in 1976, this problem became the impetus for a new game. The accounts vary as to where and who invented Over-the-Line, but before long, near the next volleyball court down (which was called “JV Beach,” the place where the less-skilled volleyballers played), the smack of smaller balls caroming off baseball bats could be heard. In his interview, Teagle testified:
Several guys were bored from doing nothing… including Royal Clarke (Sports Illustrated described him as an OTLer who is never sober) and Ron LaPolice (his stride was the official unit of measure for terminal OTL courts). People watched with fascination these guys trying to catch hard softballs that were lining right into their family jewels…with bare hands. Spectators were also amazed when they saw the batter reaching for a beer instead of running the bases. As the volleyball courts began to get crowded and the competition tougher, many OMBers joined the OTLers down the beach.
For those who were there (and still around today), 1949 seems the best guess for the year when a dozen locals decided to establish an informal sports club and name it Old Mission Beach Athletic Club, or OMBAC. No rules were adopted as the group considered themselves freethinkers, but they did come to feel a need for a place to think…and drink. The official clubhouse on Bayside Lane was called the Vine Covered Cottage, “which was where we lived,” recalls Terry Curren, an original OMBAC member. “Guys would gather there after a day at the beach to drink beer.” The subsequent free exchange of ideas engendered the sobering realization that a sports club should entrain a purpose other than drinking beer, so the first San Diego Open Volleyball Tournament was organized by the crew. The tournament grew to the point that a legal entity was called for, and in 1954 a charter membership of 35 men launched the club. Such a serious endeavor called for a stately leader. Looking around at the diverse merrymakers, Ed Teagle — one of the oldest, winner of the first volleyball event, and now a father of three with his first teaching job — seemed almost overqualified to act as president, but he gladly accepted.
That signal year of 1954 also saw the initiation of the Over-the-Line Tournament at Old Mission Beach on July 4. But for Teagle, with a full family and his college degree achieved, time for revelry was limited. In 1953, his first teaching-coaching post was at San Dieguito High School. Faced with an absence of sprinters, Teagle decided to concentrate on other events where points in a meet could be earned: field events and the hurdles. “He won a lot of championships with inferior talent,” Southworth says. “What was unique about him is that he could look at a kid and convince him to try an event Ed thought he’d be good at. And since Ed had competed in most of the events, he knew how to coach them well. If he didn’t, he’d find an expert and pick his brain.”